Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the authority will be preventing Bitcoin (BTC) from becoming an “equivalent of Swiss-numbered bank accounts.”
U.S. secretary of the treasury to closely monitor Bitcoin regardless of price
In a press briefing reported by CNBC on July 18, Mnuchin criticized Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as they can be used for illicit purposes such as money laundering, adding that the department intends to enforce strong regulations on the space.
The official emphasized his own intent to closely monitor Bitcoin to prevent illegal activity regardless of its price, claiming that there are billions of dollars in Bitcoin and other crypto for nefarious activities.
Mnuchin believes that cash is not laundered like Bitcoin is
As Mnuchin clearly said that Bitcoin’s vulnerability to money laundering is the main reason for the Treasury to regulate it tightly, CNBC’s host Joe Kernen questioned his point in an interview on Squawk Box on July 18.
Kernen argued that Bitcoin and other existing currencies’ capabilities to be used for nefarious activities cannot be a reason for banning them, noting that “cash is laundered all the time.” Mnuchin did not back off from his position, replying that such a statement is not accurate.
The Secretary elaborated that the U.S. has the strongest anti-money laundering (AML) system in the world, adding that the government combats “bad actors in the U.S. dollar every day to protect the U.S. financial system.”
Following the interview, Kernen expressed sarcasm about Mnuchin’s idea that cash has not been laundered all the time, but the authorities are combating illicit activities in its system. He tweeted:
“‘The existing system has never been used for illicit activities but we're going to make sure crypto is isn't used for illicit activities like the current system.’ Got it.”
On July 15, Mnuchin expressed concern over Facebook’s proposed cryptocurrency and its potential illicit use, noting that he is not comfortable with Libra cryptocurrency, which can be used for tax evasion, extortion, illicit drugs and human trafficking, among others.